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Maria's WK 10 discussion prompt

Sanchez-Serano (2008) talks about the difficulties in distance learning, and some of us may have experienced some of these difficulties in our last class. Many of these problems dealt with the technology itself. However, Sanchez-Serano mentions a more ethical concern dealing with the digital divide, and asks how this divide affects distance learning, in particular foreign language teaching. So, my question is have you seen first hand the effects of the digital divide in distance learning - foreign language? If not what do you think are the effects? What are some ways teachers and/or ELLs can overcome the digital divide?


Mar. 28th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
Technology is wonderful; however, for those of us who are trying to learn a new toy, is an exploration. This exploration is what distance learning seems to be (for me) at this moment. It has its plusses: it takes things that are, at times, explained in abstract and can be converted into something that is almost tangible. It creates enviroments that are very close to the real things, which eventually they intend to become. It makes knowledge accesible in visual terms: it can offer more words that pictures can offer; that quick access to information can make researchers consider a wide range of possibilties.
I see, however, a few disadvantages. The use of distance learning is still, for the most part, in its early state of general use by schools. It could take some time for the school to become familiar with a computerized system. In fact, teaching may have to be redefined in terms of training for distance learning. There is still a great deal of computer illiteracy amongst education professionals. If this sounds like an improvement to the system, lesson plans may have to be conceived very early; no class can work without them, let alone a class that is distant. In an analogy with telemarketing, if the scripts are not made readily available to the telemarketers, that sale might not happen. I'm not saying that scripts are the ultimate
crutch; a responsible teacher has to be knowledgeable of his subject to present quality class. The distance factor can be a liability.
Learning is a social thing; restricted to the limits of a seat and a computer may be physically uncomfortable: seating for hours
is hardly any fun. That face-to-face relationship with students would be annulled as less body language (from a REAL human,as opposed to SECOND LIFE, for instance) can make real communication less than authentic.
Apr. 2nd, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
Interesting point. Distance learning is not exactly like real communication, but I do think that it is good practice. But you are right, it is important to realize the value and benefit of face to face communication especially in second language learning.


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